Words can hurt

Words and images used to describe people with disabilities can create a clear-cut constructive image or a tactless depiction that increases the use of humiliating phrases. Often people use terms they feel are perfectly acceptable without realizing the impact they might have on someone with a disability. For example, words to avoid include: abnormal, invalid, misshapen, spaz, disfigured, lame, according to June Isaacson Kailes, a disability policy consultant. Kailes has created some guidelines regarding acceptable and unacceptable terms to use when describing people with disabilities:

Acceptable: He has spina bifida.

Unacceptable: He was afflicted with spina bifida.

Acceptable: She has cerebral palsy.

Unacceptable: She is cerebral palsied, spastic.

Acceptable: A person who uses a wheelchair.

Unacceptable: A person who is wheelchair bound.

Acceptable: She has a disability.

Unacceptable: She is crippled.

Acceptable: A person with a developmental disability or intellectual disability.

Unacceptable: Retard, feebleminded, idiot.

Acceptable: Seizure.

Unacceptable: Fit.

Acceptable: A person who has a speech disability.

Unacceptable: Mute.